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Combating Spyware


While one may not realize they have installed spyware, there are some signs that it exists on your computer. If you notice any changes to your Web browser that you did not make such as extra toolbars or different homepage settings, as well as changes to your security settings and favorites list, you could have spyware running on your system. Other signs of a spyware infection include pop-up ads which aren't related to a Web site you're viewing; usually spyware advertisements are adult content in nature and are not displayed in the same fashion as legitimate ads you would normally see on your favorite Web sites. You may also see advertisements when you're not browsing the Web. Clicking hyperlinks which do not work (or take you somewhere you didn't expect), a sluggish system, or your system taking longer to load the Windows desktop are all signs that your computer may be infected with spyware.

With the onset of spyware comes a plethora of anti-spyware software packages to rid your system of these unwanted and malicious programs. Anti-spyware software works by identifying any spyware installed on your system and removing it. Since spyware is installed like any other application on your system it will leave traces of itself in the system registry and in other places on your computer. Anti-spyware software will look for evidence of these files and delete them if found.

It is important to remember that not all companies who claim their software contains adware are really offering adware. There is always a chance that adware is spyware in disguise so to speak, and that programs with embedded spyware may not state its existence at all. Always stay on the side of caution and be sure to research privacy policies and licensing agreements that come with freeware. You should also become familiar with Internet lists of companies reported to be using spyware. Much like a firewall or anti-virus program, anti-spyware software is crucial to maintain optimal protection and security on your computer and network.
 

Links to more information:

Spyware Guide
Spyware Guide offers links to anti-spyware software but also provides lists of companies distributing spyware, and lists of software and applications known to contain spyware.

Security at Home: Fight Spyware
The Microsoft Security center provides detailed information on spyware and tips and information on how to find and remove spyware from your system.

Free Spyware Removal Software:

Spybot S&D 
Spybot - Search & Destroy can detect and remove spyware of different kinds from your computer. Spyware is a relatively new kind of threat that common anti-virus applications do not yet cover.

Ad-aware
Download provided by CNet Download.com. Ad-Aware is designed to provide advanced protection from known Data-mining, aggressive advertising, Parasites, Scumware, selected traditional Trojans, Dialers, Malware, Browser hijackers, and tracking components.

            Vangie 'Aurora' Beal
            Writer, www.Webopedia.com, Last updated: November 11, 2004

 

 

 

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